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March 18, 2021 7:00 pm
Dr. Brent Cook continues the series entitled “I Believe,” with a message titled “The Incarnation and Virgin Birth” from Matthew 1:18-25.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University today were continuing a study series based on the green. The students recite each day and travel services, which is a summary of the doctrines of our Christian thing today.
Sermon will be preached by Dr. Brent Cook, a professor in the school of religion will be guiding us to the doctrine of the incarnation and virgin birth of Jesus Christ. The burdens, the creator became what he made in order to redeem what he made an aversion to him the creator resurrected his humanity. Taken together, the virgin birth and the bodily resurrection of Jesus establish the central Christian doctrine of the incarnation of God and understand the incarnation this morning.
I would like us to consider to back stories are going to converge on the story of Jesus of Nazareth. So let's turn first to Matthew chapter 1. And here we will locate the first of two accounts of the virgin birth. Matthew chapter 1. After a genealogy that the sentence from Abraham to Joseph, Matthew records a discrete but clear account of Jesus's birth.
Mary and Joseph had no sexual relations.
But Mary was nevertheless pregnant. Verse 18 of the birth of Jesus was on this wise when as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Ghost of Joseph, who had no reason to believe that Mary is the first virgin in history to conceive seeks to distant all their engagement. Of course you know the Holy Spirit will intervene and he will explain to Joseph that even as a virgin Mary had conceived a child by the Holy Spirit the end of verse 20 states for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. In verse 25 reiterates that Joseph and Mary had no sexual relations before Jesus was born, but the text and knew her not to.
She brought forth her firstborn son and he called his name Jesus of the statements taken together indicate that Jesus was not merely virgin born, Jesus was virginal. He conceived orthodoxy has always insisted that Jesus's birth was supernatural supernatural character of Jesus's birth is really indispensable to the gospel. Human beings we ourselves cannot produce a solution to the problem of human sin to our own fallenness, God must intervene, but understand that orthodoxy has equally insisted on the natural character of Jesus's birth. God was pressed into the world breaking into a sphere of amniotic fluid the same way you and I came into the world. In modern times. Theologians often find themselves defending the deity of Jesus Christ but ancient theologians often had to defend the humanity of Jesus Christ.
The four Gospels in the early church councils affirm that Jesus is both divine and human. The God man now Christianity is not the only narrative that teaches an incarnational union between God and man.
However, Matthew's Gospel presents a radically different story of incarnation in the pagan alternatives and I will show this to you in the time of Christ. Pagan doctrine of apotheosis. I gained popularity in Roman culture apotheosis refers to the deification of a man. The Egyptians had deified their pharaohs as early as 2500 BC adoptive apotheosis began to take root in Greek culture around the fourth century BC Lysander of the Spartan admiral who was victorious in the Peloponnesian wars was declared to be a God. Plutarch tells us that out of the great was deified.
These claims of human deification were often buttressed up by birth legends. For instance, Alexander's mother claim that a thunderbolt came right out of heaven and struck her womb of these claims of human deification were initially resisted by the Romans. But, curiously, shortly before the birth of Christ. They began to gain popularity. Julius Caesar was deified by the Roman Senate.
In the year 42 BC and Octavius Augustus, the first Roman Emperor was deified by his subjects.
Octavius was the adopted son of Julius Caesar. Consequently, Octavius comes to be known as Poseidon of God, and you appreciate the irony Jesus the son of God was born under the rule of Octavius, the son of God in the eyes. The Romans, their emperors were God's so how would you respond to the critic and they are out there. How would you respond to critical claims of the Christian doctrine of the incarnation, the virgin birth is just one more classical myth and the answer is very simply. Those claims are off by 180° and Matthew structures as gospel against that pagan back stories so you don't really miss what's at stake in the virgin birth, apotheosis is going to advance man into divine status, but at the very moment when the Romans are elevating their emperors to God's God humbles himself and becomes a man.
You will not find God sitting on the throne in Rome, arrayed in purple surrounded by an army you will find God in a feeding trough wrapped in swaddling clothes, and surrounded by the stench of animals. Matthew's Gospel confronts us with the grim circumstances surrounding Jesus's birth. Herod, we are told slaughters the infant to Bethlehem and Mary and Joseph Lee across national boundaries and Egypt like Syrian refugees escaping a sadistic warlord. Matthew's account is dark.
It's tragic. It's hardly the kind of seeing that you would paint onto a home or gift card. Matthew's genealogy actually prepares us for the ugly realities of the world that Jesus is going to enter like Octavius Jesus was adopted by his human father Joseph.
But Joseph of course is no God. Joseph, in fact descends from a long line of notorious sinners Jewish culture of that time.
Venerated for great matriarchs. Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leon. But, curiously, Matthew's genealogy highlights for alternatives. Look at verse three and find tame our she's a prostitute who was impregnated by her leaving her lying conniving father-in-law and notice verse five Rahab another prostitute in verse five. Again Ruth. She is a noblewoman but a Gentile and a foreigner. In verse six Bathsheba and Matthew does not actually name her. Instead, he emphasizes King David's adultery with her. By using the name of her former husband, Uriah Uriah the Hittite. So the question for you. Do you ever feel scandalized, deeply scandalized by the prominent role of adulterers and prostitutes in political discourse today. Would you be scandalized if Matthew traced the genealogy of Jesus through an adulterous president or the womb of a prominent prostitute. That's precisely Matthew's point in verse 21 God took the name Jesus to save his people from their sins, but Matthew's doing is giving us a defiant alternative.
The pagan story of incarnation listen.
The Paulus Fabius Maximus as it commemorates the birth of Octavius Augustus. He writes Providence has with eager generosity bestow the most beautiful ornament on our life by bringing forth Augustus as the Savior for us and for our descendents.
The birthday of the God Octavius man for the world the beginning and the beginning of the message of peace, which has him as its author and those words translated the message of peace in Greek. That's the word gospel. Matthew's message of peace.
Massey, Matthew's gospel is a God who numbers himself with transgressors. In Paul's words, he was made sin for us, so who is gospel you going to embrace.
Let me ask you to turn out to first to the first chapter of John's Gospel, John chapter 1 let us pick up a second back story to the incarnation John's Gospel. Of course, is going to identify Jesus. The word with God in radically quality the Word was God the same was in the beginning with God. But would you notice in chapter 1 verse 14. John's emphasis on the incarnation and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, God lives in a flash and Bilotta human body and notice that were dwelt in Greek. It's the word tabernacle and instantly that term connects us to a lengthy back story of a temple in the tabernacle before that running all the way through the Old Testament. Now, just before we consider that story skip ahead one chapter.
John is going to tell us of a cleansing of the temple that occurs early in Jesus's ministry.
The course you know the Jews are enraged by Jesus's actions and they demanded him assign demonstrating that he really had the authority to cleanse the temple and Jesus answers cryptically in chapter 2 in verse 19 Jesus answered and said to them, destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up in the Jews response.
Verse 20 then said the Jews 40 and six years was this temple in building and what they'll rewrite up in three days, but keep reading, but he spake of the temple of his body. Clearly, Jesus's associates that temple with his own body. So what's the connection while her mind to all the way back to the Garden of Eden and Eden man lives in the presence of God in the presence of God is closely associated with if not synonymous with God's glory God's presence.
God's glory. But of course you know that man falls in the garden and God is going to withdrawal his presence. Of course God is omnipresent, but he cannot abide human sin. So God withdraws in the whole creation is plunged into a deep dark curse in Genesis. Did you know this never refers to the glory of God. It's gone God and man cannot occupy the same space. But suddenly when you turn Exodus God's glorious presence returns, God redeems his people from slavery in Egypt. He sends plagues upon the captors.
He splits apart a sea of water. He feeds them in the wilderness.
In Exodus 16 we discover for the first time the word glory associated with God's presence.
There we read and Moses and Aaron said to all the children of Israel in the morning you shall see.
You will see the glory of the Lord. And sure enough the next morning they looked with oneness and behold the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud and that glory filled cloud.
As you know, will guide them through the wilderness in these references to God's glory. Just keep on showing up.
For instance, an exit 24 we read of the glory of the Lord, dwelling on Mount Sinai. God has returned to live among his people. However, the relationship between God and man is extraordinarily complicated. Exodus tells of people constantly sending and God constantly threatening and don't come near God.
God enacted a death penalty for anyone who even touched the foot of Mount Sinai again God gives him a pattern for better sanctuary so that he can tabernacle right there in the middle of the 12 tribes. And when you come to the in the book of Exodus chapter 40 you discover that that complication only continues there we read the cloud covered the tent of the convocation in the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle and Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the combination because the cloud abode thereon. God's glory goes in. And Moses goes out God and man cannot occupy the same space. Only a single priest in a single day of the year after elaborate preparation could pass right through that veil and into the holy place of God's presence and that veil simultaneously exclude access but also granted access under special circumstances, it's complicated. Now fast forward five centuries and we come to first Kings seven and first Kings chapter 8, and here we find a record of the completion of Solomon's tabernacle and the account is really eerily similar to Exodus chapter 40. Let me read when the priest came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord. So the priest could not stand to minister because of the cloud for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord. Sound familiar same glory, same cloud, same problem God's glory goes in and the priest go out God and man cannot occupy the same space and listen to Solomon's response then Solomon said the Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. God shrouds his glory away and mysterious dark gloom behind the veil he's isolated and distant from his fallen creation and all too soon. Israel forsakes Solomon's Temple for idols 400 years later the Babylonians destroyed the temple in 70 years later the returning exiles. We learn the restore and rebuild the temple, but curiously we never read of God's glorious presence like a cloud returning to dwell in the temple and Becky Ezekiel has a great vision of Yahweh's presence departing the temple, and Haggai tells a God's glory will return the temple but that implies. It hasn't come yet in Malachi predicts the Lord and you see will indeed come suddenly back to his temple. But again, that implies that he hasn't returned in the Old Testament closes without God's glory coming back to the temple and with that in mind, let's approach the world of Jesus in the first century BC Herod the great, undertook a massive renovation program. Josephus tells us that he employed some 10,000 workers to read make the temple Herod began with a great big platform of 37 acres that is double the base area of the great pyramid.
That's 24 football fields that massive platform took some eight years to complete that platform rest on great big stones, some of which are 10 times larger than the largest stones in the great pyramid. They weigh as much as 100 bull elephants on top of that great big platform. Herod is going to erect a temple and that temple is three times taller than Solomon's.
It's the largest temple complex in the Roman Empire was a great pillared colonnade that surrounded the perimeter of that whole platform.
Josephus tells us the thickness of each pillar was such that three men might, with her arms outstretched, fathom that round the temple itself.
Josephus says was covered all over with plates of gold, a very great weight at the first rise in the sun reflected back a very fiery splendor and Josephus says the inward parts were fastened with iron which preserve the joints immovable for all future times in Everett Ferguson writes the temple services were considered to unite with angelic worship and invocation of the Lord on behalf of Israel and the world. The Jews interpreted the temple as a symbol of the cosmos. They understood the temple is holding the whole cosmos together and that explains why the Jews took such offense at Jesus's dismissive remark, destroy this temple and in three days. Always it up for 46 years I had labored on a structure that would permanently unite God and man. And when it's complete.
They believe that God's presence will return and fill that temple now fast forward three years the nation has again converged on Jerusalem the Passover and Jesus, to the throng of Galileans up the mountain pass from Jericho. They see that fiery temple burning on the horizon. Jesus arranges a donkey ride pressing Zechariah's prophecy of a coming king to its fulfillment comes from the east away Zechariah and vision. Yahweh would come to Jerusalem and suddenly Jesus comes to his temple, but it's complicated. Jesus cleansed the temple a second time and then Jesus turns abruptly, he sweeps down the temple steps never to ascend the temple mount again and under the shadow of the temple has perplexed disciples began pointing out all those wonderful buildings and Jesus having now ascended the Mount of olives responds abruptly. Truly I say to you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down Herod's Temple was finally completed in 63 A.D. and seven years later it was gone.
So when does God come to reside in his temple. Three days after predicting the temple's complete destruction. Jesus was dead at the moment of his death, the temple veil split apart and exposed to the world a dreadful dark secret. At the heart of Jerusalem the holy of holies was empty. Josephus tells us the ark was never returned first Maccabees tells us Judas Maccabeus restore the temple efforts pollution by antique is the fourth restore the lampstand, the altar of incense the table in the holy vessels but no work when Pompey, the Roman general, invaded Jerusalem and 63 BC he went into the holy of holies and found it empty at the moment of Christ's death that hollow stone chamber revealed that God and man were not reunited. How could they be Jesus's dead body was sealed in the stone chamber outside the temple. We have no access to God. Only an empty room God and man cannot occupy the same space. But don't forget the words of Jesus destroy this temple and in three days I will raise up God's presence will come suddenly to his temple, but God never intended to dwell forever in a temple made of stone. God's presence returns suddenly to a body and a raised it from the grave, the resurrection and eternal lies the humanity of God, born in that virgin womb and all the complication disappears God and man can occupy the same space, the permanent humanity of God, raised on Easter morning was the firstfruits of a whole new creation. John Williamson Nevin us 1/19 century American theologian wrote the incarnation is the key that unlocks a sense of all God's revelations is the key that unlocks a sense of all God's works and brings to light the true meaning of the universe.
The incarnation forms.
Thus, the great central fact of the world, and I know it's late but would you turn very quickly to Hebrews chapter 10 when that veil was torn.
We have no access to God, but that veil was significant that veil excluded access but that veil also granted access but was there deeper significance would you think for a moment about Jesus's humanity has perfect humanity. You have to live exactly like Jesus to approach God in Jesus's humanity excludes access but Jesus's humanity was torn on a cross for your sins and do you have access through him.
Look at verse 19. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say his/what is the veil is the flash. It is the body. It is the incarnation of God, how you enter the holy place of God's presence through the bowl that drained from that body will look very closely. This is no dead sacrifice of flesh, like all the others.
This is a new and a living way and why is it living because God returns suddenly to his body and resurrected from the grave. So, which gospel are you going to confess in your creative. The vein gospel apotheosis about the office where men deify themselves. Suetonius, the Roman historian, wrote a life of Octavius and here's how the gospel, the gospel of Octavius Augustine's ends on the day that he died. Augustus frequently inquired what the rumors of his illness were causing any popular disturbance. He called for mirroring and had his hair combed and his lower jaw which had fallen from weakness, propped up. Presently, he summoned a group of friends and asked if I played my part in the forest of life creditable enough forests apotheosis or the incarnation virgin birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ father give you thanks that you have chosen through Christ to unite yourself forever with us and we give you thanks that we will be resurrected bodily to live forever in the new creation with him is in Christ, and we pray, amen. You been listening to a sermon preached by Brent Cook, a professor in the Bob Jones University school of religion.
Join us again tomorrow as we continue the series summarizing the doctrines of our Christian faith here on The Daily Platform